Joe Paterno is one of my heroes. For all of us football-loving Americans who have some Italian blood in us, there is no greater mentor than the legendary Penn State coach. In fact for those of you who are familiar with Italian, the term paterno literally means fatherly.
Like most good fathers, he wants the best for his "children" (the Penn State football players) and all of college football at large. For years, Paterno has chided BIG 10 commissioner (the conference Penn State joined in 1993) Jim Delany for his spurious excuses in eschewing an essential collegiate playoff in Division I. Nevertheless, Delany like the "greedy child" he is, refuses to share his ball and play with the other kids.
For all intents and purposes, JoePa was the original playoff proponent as notwithstanding undefeated campaigns in 1968, 1969, 1979 and 1994 under his watch, the Nittany Lions were not given a shot to play for the mythical national championship. Now, with perhaps his greatest team since the aforementioned 1994 squad which dismantled Rich Brooks' Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl, will Joe Paterno be denied again?
While it seems implausible that Delany would allow any teams from his precious conference to be denied a berth in the "national championship" game, the fact is three solid teams are currently unbeaten in Division I that represent BCS conferences, Alabama, Texas and Paterno's Nittany Lions. (Of course, we need not forget that Utah, Boise State, Tulsa and our good friend Jason Whitlock's Ball State Cardinals are also undefeated at this juncture).
I bring this up because it was something Jim Rome impressed upon my mind on his nationally-syndicated radio show Tuesday morning that if JoePa is denied again, it could create major waves. If Paterno is denied once again, but the windfall creates more momentum for a playoff, then I'm sure he'll gladly take his place in the extremely overrated Rose Bowl. Once again, there is no doubt in my mind that Paterno will do whatever he can for the good of college football.
Assuredly, the magnanimous patriarch of State College, Pa. also realizes that the BCS affects not only athletes in numerous sports at Division I institutions, an appearance in one of these glorified hoax bowls also brings in revenue to all facets of a university. It is no coincidence that the schools with the greatest athletic programs also boast the best academic programs. As I've mentioned previously, I greatly admire Joe Paterno, and I want him to excel in every way, but perhaps it may be best that Penn State is screwed.
Just remember, the best friend to a fan willing to boycott all of the bowls (as I am) is a scenario which gives us three unbeaten teams in BCS conferences, one or none. If this happens again, there should be lawsuits submitted by non-BCS squads who happen to be unbeaten (both Utah and Boise State should go unbeaten and it appears that Tulsa and Ball State can do so as well) and perhaps at long last, this illegal monopoly will go the way of reel-to-reels and televisions without remote controls. Keep fighting the good fight, JoePa, I'm in your camp!